The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Feel free to use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Bullshit Economic Statistics


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy –  October 18, 2020


  1. Zachary Smith

    The Great Barrington Declaration: A manifesto of death

    I no longer bookmark the World Socialist Web Site for reasons I can’t quite recall, so I found this story via a link. The author noticed, as did I, that the Libertarians are behind this BS.

    Another no-longer-bookmarked site is The Saker.

    POTUS Punk vs. Dem Dementia

    Pepe Escobar usually makes a lot of sense, but not this time. At least, not to me. This piece takes such a close look at all the “trees” that the author totally overlooks the “forest”. I was most definitely wrong about 2016, but even after nodding in agreement with many of the points Escobar made here, I believe his expectation of a 2016 repeat is entirely unreasonable.

  2. Zachary Smith

    Larry Niven (82) and Gregory Benford (79) co-authored an three-part SF series called the “Bowl of Heaven”. The final novel – “Glorious” – was released this year, and IMO it’s the best of the bunch. As I said in my Amazon review, this one can be treated as a stand-alone. At the end I saw an enormous smorgasbord of SF themes presented. In light of my personal SF tastes, this one was a real winner.


  3. KT Chong

    Some exit polls of early voting…

    AP News on 10/16/2020:

    “So far the turnout has been lopsided, with Democrats outvoting Republicans by a 2-1 ratio in the 42 states included in The Associated Press count.”

    CNN on 10/16/2020:

    “In Pennsylvania, Democrats account for more than three-quarters of the ballots cast so far. They hold a 20-point lead in Florida and a 32-point lead in North Carolina.”

  4. KT Chong

    Those were just early votes, NOT including mail-in ballots, which may or may not matter because Republicans are going to find a way to throw out all the mail-in ballots for Democrats, and the Supreme Court will be on their side.

  5. KT Chong

    Some words about exit polling:

    Exit polls are the most accurate polls. Unlike “opinion polls” that sample people who may end up not voting, exit polls sample people who have already cast their votes — and are “exiting” voting booths after casting their balklots. Exit polls gauges the “voter mood” — meaning the samples are people who feel strongly enough about supporting/opposing a candidate to actually go out, show up and vote. Exit polls can quite accurately reflect the actual voter mood.

    Exit polls are accurate enough that they “have historically and throughout the world been used as a check against, and rough indicator of, the degree of election fraud.”

    Previously, we or the media pundits could THINK or HOPE that the “voter mood” would go certain way, that an election “wave” might happen, but we do not really know what the actual voter mood is… until the time comes for people to vote. Then, we shall find out who actually show up and vote — and who do not, and if there is a wave and which way the wave goes.

    So, exit polls of early voting does reflect the actual “voter mood” in an election. And, based on those early exit polls, I would say Trump is toast… unless he cheats, (which is a REAL and LIKELY possibility,) then the final election results will deviate significantly from the exit polls, which is of course the way to detect election frauds.

  6. bruce wilder

    The Pepe Escobar piece linked by Z S was certainly entertaining.

    For those who came into the arena without buying a program, the key to understanding the Escobar piece is the reference to Baudrillard, a French philosopher.


    Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is a simulation of reality. Moreover, these simulacra are not merely mediations of reality, nor even deceptive mediations of reality; they are not based in a reality nor do they hide a reality, they simply hide that nothing like reality is relevant to our current understanding of our lives.

    A simulacrum is a copy of a putative original that does not exist, a representation of a supposed truth that is not real and, therefore, not true in the real sense.

    It is the world one enters when one watches CNN. Or, Fox News I suppose.

    But, not just because of the mad expression of partisan opinion as an exclusive revelation, but because every opinion is founded in counterfactuals. Alarm is expressed not over what has happened but over what is projected to happen.

    The inability of societies to control the pandemic comes down to the inability to focus on or even understand effective measures. People wear masks driving alone in their cars! People express moral horror at scenes of people scattered across a beach. Public parks have been closed in places. And then others insist on their right to attend a crowded church service, while employers ignore conditions in factories and warehouses and college administrators are shocked to discover that young adult students socialize intensely, being of mating age for their species.

    To turn to Trump and the election, Escobar’s skepticism is about whether the voting and anxiety are not mere theatre. If Trump is a simulacrum of a President, and the political campaigning and posturing a simulation of politics, then why not entertain the possibility not of the reality of a Deep State conspiracy, but maybe that the Deep State, too, is a simulacrum, an extension of a politics that is a mere simulation of politics.

    Really, I cannot bring myself to care much whether Biden displaces Trump. Biden is even less likely to do anything to oppose the forces and ideas that are destroying the country and the world, if that is possible. Harris does look like a caudillo reimagined as a woman of color. Oligarchy wins with either candidate, humanity loses with either candidate.

  7. It’s all kumbuki theater, Bruce, leaving the rubes fealing participant.

  8. StewartM

    My offering for this thread is an article about David Hume, from the NY Review of books:

    In his own day, and into the nineteenth century, his philosophical writings were generally seen as perverse and destructive. Their goal was “to produce in the reader a complete distrust in his own faculties,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1815–1817. The best that could be said for Hume as a philosopher was that he provoked wiser thinkers to refute him in interesting ways.

    This is certainly true, even at the university I attended; Hume was only mentioned as a prelude to Immanuel Kant.

  9. StewartM

    KT Chong

    Exit polls are accurate enough that they “have historically and throughout the world been used as a check against, and rough indicator of, the degree of election fraud.”

    Except in the US, where the pollsters say “oops! our model failed!” and then tweak their polls to match the official election tally.

    I think more than a small part of the Repugs’ alarm over mail-in voting is that it’s avoiding those wonderful closed-source sekrit-code voting machines that lack any true audit trail. It would be trivial to write code that would flip votes, say 1 %, from one party to another, well within the margin of error of polls, and moreover only have it to this on election day–so that any testing done before or after would pass the machine with flying colors. There is no reason not to have machines that spit out a paper ballot, which a voter can review for veracity, and which is then put into a traditional box, and to cross-check the machine output vs paper output by having a statistically valid number of random precincts count the paper ballots to see if it matches the machine output.

  10. Zachary Smith

    I Called Everyone in Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book

    Be warned – this is a VERY long article, and is also a bit of a ‘sick-maker’.

    The dark carnival that is the Epstein case ended with his mysterious death while awaiting trial in the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in August of last year. According to the New York City medical examiner, Epstein hanged himself with his bedsheet either on the night of August 9 or early in the morning of August 10, which if true, would make his death the first acknowledged suicide in 14 years at the institution. The cause of his death and the circumstances around it are widely contested–around half of Americans believe he was murdered. A medical examiner hired by Epstein’s brother ruled the death a homicide by strangulation, citing Epstein’s broken hyoid bone, a small u-shaped bone just above the Adam’s apple that rarely fractures in instances other than strangulation. The wounds on Epstein’s neck, which drew blood, were not under the mandibles, as is usual with hanging victims, but instead around the middle of the neck, which is consistent with strangulation. The wound was also thin and wirelike, much thinner than a bedsheet, and photos of Epstein’s cell show the bedsheet itself was not bloody. While this is certainly a curious set of circumstances, none is a smoking gun in and of itself. But there are more, even stranger details around what Attorney General William Barr has described as “a perfect storm of screwups.” Epstein had been placed into a Special Housing Unit after an earlier suicide attempt and was to have a cellmate and wellness check every 30 minutes, two protocols that were not followed on the night of his death. The two guards were charged with falling asleep at the desk and later falsifying the necessary records. The three cameras with views of his cell simultaneously malfunctioned—two had died, and one had produced footage that was deemed “unusable”.

    The Power Elites coddled and protected Epstein throughout his entire sordid career, and that’s the way it has always been. The other day I picked up my copy of “Contraband Cargoes” to read a few pages and ran into this passage:

    If the trade in African slaves had practically ceased by 1880, there was another traffic in human beings that paid huge dividends to the sinister figures which directed it. The white slave traffic reached a peak in the ‘eighties.

    Young women were promised good jobs – then forced into prostitution when they reached their distant destination. It was a very big deal then, and continues to be so to this day. Trolling for pretty girls from trailer parks is just another version of the scheme. The Power Elites have a substantial minority (?) with the money to pay for any of their perversions, and as the Epstein episode demonstrated, also the power to put a lid on both prosecutions and publicity.

  11. Willy

    “If you don’t help me fight the class bully, then I’ll support the class bully” is how they see us… these moderates in simulacrums with names such as Kos and LGM.

    Is it easier to persuade moderates by enabling obviously horrible presidents, than it is to persuade moderates by playing along with them? Most people being as ‘simulacrumtastic’ as they are, will need to like you first before they’ll begin to consider your point of view. Yes this sucks but that’s the reality.

  12. Ten Bears

    Epstein is kicking back on his private island, toking on a number, sipping a Mai Tai no doubt molesting a little boy and laughing his ass off. People like that don’t die in a downtown jail.

    No doubt where drumpf uck is headed now that he’s leaving town.

    Goodness Willy, you wouldn’t be referring to Pretentious, Pop-Pistols and Peanuts, aeh?

  13. StewartM

    It looks like I may have guessed right, that’s if Trump’s post-loss coup attempt fails. We’ll see:

    The backup plan would be for Trump to order Air Force One to Russia, where he will ask Putin for asylum, and he’ll get it (on the premise it’s best to take care of your agents). That is preferable to the other option, where Trump resigns the presidency and has Pence pull a Gerald Ford and pardon him–which would only protect him against Federal prosecution, and not all those NY state crimes.

    Oh and BTW, it’s interesting Keith Olbermann spoke of something I’ve always wondered, and which Ian himself said before the 2016 election, about a Trump presidency, saying “TRUMP IS PRESIDENT” and thus would have access to the surveillance state apparatus data:

    Go to the 6 minute mark. Olbermann speculates that Graham and other ‘mewling’ Republicans have bowed to Trump because Trump has the dirt on them. I suspect Trump in turn is being blackmailed by Putin (sex with underaged girls in the hotel in Moscow in 2013 caught on videotape? Getting someone by the literal or figurative gonads is reputedly a trick of intelligence agencies around the world, including ours).

    The QAnon folks, as stupidly wrong and paranoid and ‘superstitious’ (because their mode of causation and blame is so much akin to that in the great witch hysteria in Europe in the 15th-17th centuries) have gotten their heroes and villains almost exactly backwards, even by their stupid and unreal standards.

    BTW, if Olbermann’s is guessing right on Trump having the dirt on key Republicans, this makes Trump all the more YUGE a failure. He could have used it to drag the Republican party kicking and screaming towards something more like universal health care, to a real infrastructure program, to debt-free college education, to higher taxes on hedge fund managers (something he promised in 2016) as well as been the hero against the coronavirus. He could have outflanked the corporatist Dems on the left and cruised to reelection in 2020. Nor did he have to do the atrocious things, like separating children from parents or embracing white supremacists and he could have limited his anti-immigrant/Muslim stuff to the verbal histrionics and symbolic stuff (his base, like most Americans, overplays what he would say; not the policies he actually would have *implemented*).

    Instead, Trump decided to be the uncouth version of Paul Ryan. And moreover, sound like Paul Ryan in 2020.

  14. NL

    “The backup plan would be for Trump to order Air Force One to Russia, where he will ask Putin for asylum, ”

    Nothing will happen of the sort, he will not be prosecuted and leaves the White House like all the previous presidents, and the show moves on to the next thing to be obsessing over, most likely how big the federal debt is and that we need a sequester and so, we go through another spiral span down.

    I am with Escobar and bruce wilder, it’s all a simulacrum and some shadow figures, but we are not even sure whether those shadows are real. All I know is that the creature created the simulation will not be kind to me and I want out of the simulation. Unfortunately, I don’t even know whether anyone in communication is real.

  15. NL

    Down-sizing/oligarchy ‘bloodbath’:

    “Politicians are going to be faced with the uncomfortable reality that you’re going to have more big business doing better and that there’s going to be more losses of jobs along the way,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President John Waldron said at a conference Friday. “You are going to see a fairly sizable amount of large-cap M&A coming with stronger, healthier companies being the acquirer and taking advantage of weaknesses in their industry or elsewhere.”

    Sequester is coming
    “Senior Federal Reserve officials are calling for tougher financial regulation … to “stop firms and households” from taking on “excessive leverage”…” “…the debate over tougher financial regulation could gather pace if Democrat Joe Biden wins the White House in November, making the political environment more favourable towards action.”

    No debt for you. Guess they do not want the money spilling from the ‘financial system’ into ‘the real economy’.

  16. Willy

    TB, we can’t allow moderates to feel like they owe progressives nothing, just for being “not Trump”. They’ll need to be constantly reminded why half of our youth have lost faith in liberal democracy and voting, but those opposing their futures have not.

  17. Zachary Smith

    The link is to the story of Amy Coney Barrett, a Wisconsin prison-guard rapist, and his pregnant victim.

    The Textualists!

    As I understand it, Barrett and the rest ruled that because sexual assault was no listed among the Prison Guard’s duties, the guard’s employer (Milwaukee County) was not liable.

    As the blogger says, this woman is doing to ignore the actual law whenever it suits her. She is soon going to be on the Supreme Court, and I predict Biden won’t do a damned thing about it – in all essentials the man is basically a Republican.

  18. bruce wilder

    we can’t allow moderates to feel like they owe progressives nothing

    the moderates will have gotten for us exactly what they wanted and nothing more nor less

    in their reckoning they owe us nothing, because they expect to do what they promised: get rid of Trump and they never promised anything more.

    everyday, Biden reminds us that he opposes the progressives on everything else progressives value: M4all, he is against it. Ban fracking, never he says. crime bill, for it in 94, for it now. climate change, wait for it.

    vote 4 fascist dictatorship under Harris instead of Trump, but do not expect the so-called moderates will thank you 4 it

  19. Hugh

    Re a postmodernist like Baudrillard, if everything is symbol or sign why didn’t he starve to death eating simulacra sandwiches? It reminds me of the story of Samuel Johnson who refuted Bishop Berkeley’s idealism by kicking a stone with his foot. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a stone is just a stone.

  20. bruce wilder

    Baudrillard is not talking about epistemological subjectivism. He is talking about the epochal shift in the culture, when John Wayne became a war hero or when business started selling products “as seen on tv” or when kids in high school aspired to be tiktok-famous as a career move.

  21. Hugh

    Moderates and liberals don’t take responsibility for Trump. They do not see why we should hold their betrayals and failures of us –against them. In their minds, they not only don’t owe progressives anything. They feel they own us and our votes.

    I think progressives should have declared back in 2008 that Obama was their last go-round with the Democrats and that from then on the Democrats either delivered on the progressive agenda or progressives would go their own way. Fast forward to 2020 and we have another opportunity to do this. Ignore us and we’re gone. Trivialize us or our agenda and we’re gone. It was always a fatal failure of the Sanders’ approach to make nice to those who sandbagged him, and more importantly us.

  22. Hugh

    The problem with post-modernist, post structuralist views are that they sound cool for about 5 minutes but after that there is a big so what? What comes next? We dump John Wayne because he wasn’t an authentic war hero. But that just pushes the question back a step. What do we use war heroes for? And war heroes are seldom heroic all their lives. Take Marshal Pétain. Do we praise the hero of Verdun, the hero of the First World War or the Nazi collaborator of the Second?

    It is a kind of reductionist nihilism. Who gets to decide what the categories are and who or what fills them? If all the categories get collapsed or treated as the same, then meaning itself ends. Structures are often useful. They are seldom absolute. Life is complicated, especially at the edges. Isn’t that enough? I find trying to go beyond this intellectually facile and pointless.

  23. Zachary Smith

    Something I see as a veiled warning to the US: Video: China Tests Launching Suicide Drone Swarm From Truck, Helicopter

    48 suicide drones on a single 6×6 truck! How many “boxes” could a fishing boat carry? A tramp steamer? Even if the B-21 is totally and completely unstoppable, the thing has to land somewhere. Ditto for B-2, F-35, and F-22. On the ground they’re just another soft target! Guam. Diego Garcia. The US bases in the Gulf. Lardass Pompeo is really playing with fire by poking nations with the ability to build and deploy these munitions.

  24. KT Chong

    Check out this curiosity:


    So, apparently as an elected representative for the farming people of the agricultural states of Iowa, one is expected to know the on-going and breakeven prices of various crop products. Very interesting.

  25. @Zachary Smith
    “The Great Barrington Declaration: A manifesto of death”

    Are you so totally lacking in any ability to discern trash, when you read it? Or merely pretending?

    The article was basically garbage, though, unfortunately, when they say,

    “The eight-paragraph declaration cites no scientific data and does not seriously attempt to argue its case.”

    they are basically correct. They are basically correct about not seriously arguing their case principally BECAUSE they do not cite data and studies. In interviews, one of the key cosigners states that their claims are “Epidemiology 101”. However, this makes the lack of references more unforgivable, not less. It was also a brain-dead idea to accept co-signers without vetting them. Getting spammed with some fakes was thus inevitable.

    The garbage article goes on to ‘explain’ :

    “It is, rather, a series of assertions constructed retroactively from the demand by US big business to abandon public health measures to contain the pandemic: “Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume.”

    Gee whiz, sounds a lot like Sweden, except for blaming US Big Business. Their two covid deaths per day is about 1% of expected mortality, statistical noise. Even as their cases have surged to about 50% of their previous peak. What Ivor Cummins, and others, refer to as a “casedemic”. Funny that the garbage article made no serious attempt to explain that.

    The garbage article did volunteer a quote from a Lancet article,

    “We have seen the failure of the herd immunity experiment in nations such as Sweden, which has the highest mortality rate among Nordic countries,”

    This is a really blinkered non-analysis ‘analysis’. Perhaps there is something more substantial in the Lancet article, which at least touches on the “dried tinder” effect, but I’m not going to waste my time on it.

    If somebody is SERIOUSLY interested in a more objective, and referenced analysis of mortality and risk from covid, and different aspects of immunity, they should listen to videos by Ivor Cummins, who has not yet been banned from youtube.

    Probably, before they dig into the science, they should become more aware of the sociology and reward/punish structure inflicted on epidemiologists. What I sometime call “meta science”. Yours truly has quoted an interviewee about this very topic, in “Immunologists Self-Censoring About The Non-Catastrophic Character of the Covid-19 Pandemic”, which I posted in my sub-redddit bad_science_culture.

  26. Hugh

    Yes, the 220,000 Americans dead from Covid are no doubt faking it. Thanks, metamars, for seeing through their imposture and minimizing the effects of the virus.

  27. Zachary Smith

    Earlier on this thread I linked to Pablo Escobar’s theorizing that Trump was going be be a winner (again) this November. Here is one of many reasons that’s extremely unlikely:

    At large Wisconsin rally, President Trump downplays pandemic as state’s coronavirus cases hit record levels

    Anybody who uses their head for anything besides holding a MAGA cap knows this is absolute garbage. They’ve had ten months now to come to understand the Orange POTUS is dumber than dirt on all things regarding Covid. Because his “base” has willingly turned off their gray matter, THEY may scream with delight about their heroic moron-in-chief, but who else will?

    How Donald-the-doofus believes he is going to change any Democratic or Independent votes with BS like this is hard to understand.

    I had to make a grocery run today, and here in a very conservative part of Deep Red Indiana I saw at least 90% mask usage. It wasn’t a hapless bunch of libtards I was encountering, either. People with even a lick of sense are starting to understand this Pandemic is getting worse with the coming of cold weather, and dying for Trump is on the agenda of very few – even here.

  28. Willy

    Regarding M4all, fracking, crime bills and climate change, Obama went half assed in the progressive direction. Trump went backwards. They are not the same. Sure, Biden of ‘he who finished near the bottom’ may get intellectually overwhelmed by whatever swampy overlords he brings in to advise him.

    The common wisdom culture does seem to be changing. Blaming Obama for Trump seems more commonplace than just four years ago. And I’d think that many more people know better about stuff like personality disorders, grifting, kleptocracy and cults, and how lying works.

  29. KT Chong

    Some maths and analyses…

    If Donald Trump wins ALL of the “undecided” voters AND ALL of the third-party voters in ALL of the swing states… he will still LOSE…

    If the 2020 polls turn out to be as wrong as the 2016 polls… Trump will still LOSE…

  30. Garbage link from Zachary, bad enough. Garbage comment from hugh, even worse.

    Not impressive…

    The apparent inability of some lefties to disambiguate a casedemic from epidemic mortality reminds me of their apparent inablity to disambiguate “climate change” from catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Perhaps a Venn diagram would help? How about a pretty picture?

    I haven’t gotten around to it (and may well not), but IIRC there is more quotable stuff in either the Cummins interview I reference above; or else the Rancourt vs. Johnson mask debate; regarding the reluctance to debate the science behind government public health policy measures, by the government supporting scientists.

    There will obviously be reluctance among self-censoring scientist-doubters to publicly debate, because they’d no longer by self-censoring, now, would they? But the reluctance of “party line” scientists to appear in a debate, also, unfortunately, reminds me of CAGW preaching scientists who also won’t debate. In fact, there’s a video on youtube called “Climate Scientist Gavin Schmidt runs in fear from a debate”.

    The sociological and career enhancement/destruction mechanisms in place are no doubt similar.


    I’ve also privately wondered – now publicly – why the lefties who want a big human die-off and economic destruction, to help “save the planet”, are not publicly CELEBRATING (with masks and social distancing, of course) the fallout from over-zealous covid responses? Did the virus not kill enough people, to make them happy? Or have not enough people lost their jobs, not enough capitalist businesses destroyed? I’m not saying that Zachary and hugh are this wacky, but some people are, and they’re not shy about their green-related death wishes. Why are they shy about covid+government accomplishing the same thing?

  31. Mel

    Caitlin Johnstone points out, in detail, every day, how 90% or more of our culture (produced by 10% or less of our people) is working *exactly* the way Baudrillard described. I’ve seen no evidence that Baudrillard liked it any better than I do, or you do, or Bruce or Ian do.
    If we were happy living as fictional characters then the simulacrum would be perfectly OK, but we need food from outside the story; our dwellings have to be better than just stage sets, etc. But the biggest decisions about are lives are being made as plot points in a work of fiction, by a few people who are enjoying the story.

  32. Ten Bears

    I’m not so sure Putin, or anyone, would welcome the Trumps or grant them asylum. As indebted as he is he is of no real value, and his usefulness as a pawn in a grander game has run it’s course, he is of no value to anyone. Other than the damned fools who loaned him all that money (a billion on dollars!? how does that happen?) who might want some small, very small, revenge. And they sold out their country, how are you ever going to trust someone like that, aeh?

    We dance around (((The Deep State))) quite a bit around here, mostly because that’s all we got: the edges. We can’t see into the breakfasts at the Bilderberger, cocktails at the Bohemian, weekends at Davos; CFR, Opus Dei or Trilateral Commision; the International Bankers and Insurers. All we know is there’s something out there that doesn’t necessarily have the best interests of the rest of us at heart. I for one admire them; their tenacity at least, sticktoitiveness. Nose to the grindstone across perhaps as much as a thousand years. I wrote of this, in the early days, of the best laid plans of mice and men, and of that taken for granted – specifically climate – not factored in to the best laid plans out of nowhere scattering those plans like so many papers in the breeze.

    It may be that Trump is one of those one-offs, not taken seriously, that came out of nowhere to scatter the best laid plans, though I would note most of what he has done dovetails quite nicely thank you with those plans, but I fear not. Latching on to a piece of 1950’s science fiction, I fear Trump has been our Beast Rabban, and administrator so loathesome as to unite the populace in welcoming his successor as a messiah.

    Others are as adept at manipulating a drugged and distracted population as we, or Putin. It could turn out he was as much a pawn in a grander game than drumpf uck.

  33. Zachary Smith

    COVID-19: The Case Against Herd Immunity

    The link is about Sweden, and how NOT do manage a pandemic. The Libertarians there must be as thick as fleas on a neglected old dog. I’m adding the place to a growing list of nations to which I wouldn’t accept an all-expenses-paid free trip.

  34. bruce wilder

    the current contretemps over how Twitter and Facebook are mediating the NY Post story about Hunter Biden and his alleged emails could be an illustration of how completely untethered from any consideration of reality the political discourse is. And, possibly where the powers-that-be want to take us: a ban on anything sourced in “a hack” or theft.

    We are all QAnon now, as StewartM illustrated upthread.

    That, to me, was the upshot of Pepe Escobar’s piece: the way we are preoccupied with imaginative constructions. His prediction of a Trump victory, which seems unlikely, was not the important part: the important part is the case that we are all caught up in a fake politics layered over more fake politics — fake politics all the way down.

  35. Hugh

    The embrace of pseudo-science whether in regard to climate change or the pandemic I suppose goes along with Baudrillard theme of embracing the fake. Other than as vanity project there’s no upside. I mean only the true believers, and only those of the same kind, are going to believe any of your claptrap. So why do you do it, metamars?

  36. Hugh

    bruce, I have written for years that wealth inequality is the goal, theft is the means, and class war is the way that stolen wealth is protected and defended. I have also said that the primary weapon of class war is distraction. And what better way to distract and confuse than fakery and lots of it?

  37. Willy

    Speaking of faith-based insanity…

    there are honest ministers and theologians who are lamenting over it. They see the decline in their ranks and in our society, understand the causes, and are sounding the alarm.

    While a Christian faith does seem to aid disciplined integrity, as in the determined AA member or football quarterback willing to do all the work required to improve themselves, IT DOES NOT GIVE SUPERPOWERS TO THE LAZY.

    Just because you pray while reading Qanon, warming denial conspiracies, or other ridiculous nonsense, it doesn’t magically make you a genius above all other experts. Worse, you and yours are gonna be the only ones who notice. Everybody else will laugh at you .

    Sadly, logic doesn’t change those prone to over exercising their conspiracy muscles who are too far gone. So apart from the lamenting ministers and theologians, I entertain myself by feeding the angsty crazies so I can watch them delve even further into the abyss.

  38. Ten Bears

    I don’t know Willy, strikes me that even though it’s a hard and fast sin, one of the original sins, commanded against amongst nine others, it’s ok to lie because Jesus forgives them is a superpower. I realize that’s your point, but they sure treat it thus.

  39. Willy

    I was just told by a Christian blog owner (who has a PhD wife employed as a professional), that Trumps worst mistake was not repealing the 19th Amendment, and that if you disagree then you could only possibly be a pansy loser. Think about how fucked up that is, on a variety of levels.

    Ian is probably correct in that the worst of them will likely head straight into the intellectual abyss to remain there until death, any contrary facts be damned.

    My belief is that somehow, their faith in a utopian afterlife has gotten wrapped around the axle. God could not possibly lead them astray. Impossible. Not gonna hear it. And no bible verse shall ever persuade me otherwise. You “demonrats” are all just devils sent here by Satan to tempt us.

    Meanwhile L.Ron Hubbard rolls around in his grave with glee.

  40. KT Chong

    The President cannot just repeal an amendment or change the Constitution.

    To amendment the Constitution or repeal an amendment, require:

    2/3 of the House + 2/3 of the Senate = 2/3 of the Congress


    2/3 of all State legislatures

  41. Willy

    Sorry, KT, but the blog owner is also a PhD. With that kind of metaphysial superempowerment, a simpleminded Dunning-Kruger such as I (his description) doesn’t stand a chance.

  42. Ché Pasa

    By now it should be obvious that the policy of the US government — and those who own it — with regard to this pandemic is to let as many die as will and do what can be done under neoliberal ideological constraints to preserve, protect, and defend the lives and well-being of a (primarily) financial elite.

    We like to blame policy on anyone but those who are ordering, designing and executing it, often on those who went before, simply because it is so hard to come to terms with the reality of the now. This is true with households and families and it’s true with regard to government. Little or nothing that is is the consequence or responsibility of those now wielding power. Even their power isn’t real; it’s only the legacy of someone-somewhere-sometime on whom all blame should be placed. Easier and more satisfying to blame the long-dead or the long-out-of-power for the catastrophes of the moment.

    I’m convinced that the final toll from this virus will be in the millions in the US and tens or hundreds of millions world wide before it finally burns out or burns down to embers. Our rulers are fine with that. They will mitigate only so much as they must (for themselves) and let it run free among the rabble until it’s done its job. And then there will be another one to “cleanse” more of the unwashed, and by then the underclass will be used to it and will accept it as God’s Will or just The Way Things Are and blame Obama or Hillary or Trump or Biden and be done with it. Nothing will change. Nothing can be done. Oh well. World without end, Amen.

    Realistically, what could be done instead? If politics is incapable of properly addressing catastrophe, what is the alternative?

  43. @hugh

    Snicker. You comments re covid are as devoid of reference to good science, as they are devoid of reference to the dysfunctional ecosystem permeating and distorting scientific communities, funding sources, and more external factors, like the media. You have no explanation for the de facto, observed, group immunity of the Swedish population to covid disease, with fatalities at statistical noise levels. (What some are calling herd immunity.) Nor do you have any explanation for why immunologists would self-censor.

    In fact (correct me if I’m wrong), you don’t ever refer to any science, AT ALL. (Meaning, scientific studies; or else some in depth reporting/analysis of other people’s scientific studies.) Not even bad science.

    In the eyes of lefty know-nothings, of course, this makes you eminently qualified to toss out insults about who embraces “pseudo-science”. Good for you. You are a “working class hero”, at least to your fellow travelers. You and Greta Thunberg should become besties. You certainly seem compatible.

  44. “Realistically, what could be done instead? If politics is incapable of properly addressing catastrophe, what is the alternative?”

    Citizens can make their immune systems more robust.

    I went to a holistic dentist, 2 weeks ago, who offers vitamin D blood tests. I took one, and found out that, despite 5,000 IU vit D/day, and 15+ minutes/day of sunbathing, during the summer, my vitamin D levels were low! And I’m white! (though older/old; vitamin D synthesis is less with darker skin, and declines with age).

    The US black population weighs in at about 76% deficient in vitamin D. (And this will be to a much lower standard than what my dentist recommends). What is being done, by the governments (state and Federal) to address this? AFAICT, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. See my website

  45. Zachary Smith

    Michael Osterholm, a renowned infectious disease expert, warned that the next several months will be the ‘darkest of the entire pandemic.’

    Pixi Dust

    The link site is pretty awful, but this particular version of the Osterholm (actual infectious disease expert) vs Atlas (radiologist) was the best one I found.

    No doubt some tRump Kissers who will defend Scott Atlas for saying masks don’t work.

    “Masks work? NO” he tweeted Sunday, following by a thread of posts that misrepresented scientific findings on masks.

    From the Mirror link:

    ‘We need somebody to start to articulate, ‘What is our long-term plan? How are we going to get there? Why are we asking people to sacrifice distancing? Why are we telling people if you really love your family, you won’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas and end up infecting mom or dad or grandpa and grandma.”

    IMO that needs to be read as explaining to citizens the reasons for considering cancelling Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. My own family made this decision back in early Summer.

  46. Hugh

    Whack conspiracists discard decades of climate science, all of which extends and re-enforces our understanding of things like manmade climate change. Instead they deny it and when that position becomes untenable/too big a joke some of them come up with a super limited version of climate change minus the manmade component driving it. For them, this is a great fallback since it allows them to pretend like they buy into climate change even as they continue to deny it. And they continue to cite their favorite whack denialists because citing a URL from a whack trumps all history, argument, and evidence. Apparently it is way too hard for them to google IPCC or UN climate reports or “public health pandemic response” because this would produce information and they don’t want information, especially info that doesn’t agree with their whackery.

  47. Hugh

    Zachary Smith, this is standard nowadays. If the science doesn’t support them, they find a whack (but one with credentials or sounds like credentials) and cite him/her like it was gospel. The problem is that this works less and less well over time, except maybe to give the true believers fake talking points.

  48. Hey, Zachary, the Swedish data shows a recent high covid death rate of 3.4, on Oct 16 and Oct 17.
    That is higher than the 2 deaths per day I had eyeballed/guesstimated, earlier, from the collapsed part of the curve.

    The data also shows an increase of cases/day in Sweden from 95 on Sep 2, to 690/day, yesterday.

    Given Sweden’s population of about 10 million, I have extrapolated (from US figures) an expected daily Swedish death toll of about 210, from all causes. So, covid deaths are about 1.5% of their total.

    Does your source, Osterholm, believe that 1.5% covid deaths is anything to be concerned about, compared to other causes of death? Even if he doesn’t, what exactly does he think is going to happen during the “darkest of the entire pandemic” period ahead? How high does he think the daily death toll is going to go, in Sweden?

    Or, was he just blowing smoke? Spreading fear and paranoia?

    Let’s get an idea with ballpark figures. From, “In 2018-2019 between 26,000 and 53,000 people died from the flu in the US alone.” Let’s take 40,000 US deaths from flu as typical.

    In a population of 10 million, similar rate of flu fatality would be 1,212. Let’s assume a flu season is 4 months, or 120 days. So a typical flu season death rate in Sweden would be about 10 people dying/day.

    If the covid deaths/day in Sweden don’t exceed flu deaths, that doesn’t seem, to me, to pass the laugh test for something described by “darkest of the entire pandemic period, ahead”. But is this what Osterholm means? Or, does he mean something dramatically worse than typical flu mortality? Say, e.g. 4x as bad, or 40 deaths/day?

    Rational, inquiring minds would like answers to obvious questions such as these, especially from quoted experts, who presumably have a better handle on the answer. OTOH, consumers of fear porn, who resonate to chaotic scenarios, however vague, only care if their confirmation biases are ‘confirmed’, by their fear porn consumption.

    What category do you fall into? Uncritical fear porn addict, and spreader? Or rational, inquiring mind?

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